Smartphones don’t make you “smart”

I was at my 2nd job, which really is my former job where I’m sort of helping out…  anyway, was there talking about the impending “mango” update for my Windows smartphone with another, and they asked me “Does it make you smarter?” with a chuckle.  Normally I don’t get caught off guard, but this time I did.  Actually putting some thought into the question, I answered “No”.  It started me thinking on why it was called a smartphone in the first place.  I mean, what we considered normal phones back in the day are now often called “dumb phones”.  I don’t particularly believe that people who use them are dumb, and actually would be a bit offended at the thought of someone else thinking that I was because it was my choice to own one.  After all, they were at one time just phones that were mobile.

Respect to the British for giving their cellular phones (cell phones really don’t have cells in them anymore by the way) mobile phones or just “mobiles.”  A significantly less derogatory term and covers all types of mobile phones, sort of rolls out nicely just like other words like, bollocks, bloody hell, and bugger off.  Come to think of it, the British are so much more eloquent in their use of the English language that it puts most Americans and their slang terms to shame.  Yes, I’m making fun of myself as well here, I’m born and bred Pennsylvanian!

Back to the topic of this post though, a smartphone doesn’t make a person smart.  In fact I think any device that takes away your ability, or rather makes you forget an ability, makes you dumb.  I personally pride myself in the fact that I know most of the numbers and email addresses of people that are important in my life.  A rare breed that can actually look at a landline (remember what those are?) phone and make a call to any of the people that are important to me.  It seems sad these days to make the realization that the younger generation has not learned how to socialize without an electronic device.  I’ve personally witnessed several times seeing two teenagers texting each other while they were sitting NEXT to each other.  Is it really that hard to hold a conversation?

Final thought, no technological device makes you smarter.  How it’s used to augment your life is what determines if it makes you smarter or not.  For example, if my Windows phone were to disappear tomorrow, my life could in fact go on.  Most people would consider that a scene out of a horror movie I think.  I am not defined by my technology, rather my technology enhances my life in less important ways such that if it were to go away (EMP bomb set off by aliens) my life would not end completely.


  1. I don’t remember most of the numbers of folks I’ve friended in Los Angeles, but I do know most of my Eugene friends’ numbers by heart. I miss a little the days where I was my mom’s personal walking phone book. Those days inform me, much as you’ve said here, that we’ve lost some power by transferring our knowledge to repositories outside ourselves. It’s neat to have that kind of computing power small enough to fit in a pocket, but so much the better to trust our own brains to maneuver us through the world! I see folks beloved me struggling with simple questions and fear what we’re losing to our desire to make our devices smarter, while making ourselves what feels like the opposite.

    Whoa! I didn’t meant to get so pensive there! Mostly I wanted to comment so that you’d know when I click “Follow” in a moment, it’s because I liked everything I saw here, not because I auto-follow. 🙂


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